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Your Environment. Your Health.

Superfund Research Highlighted in Nature Paper

An international collaboration led by Julian Schroeder, Ph.D., professor of biology and SRP grantee at the University of California (UC) – San Diego, has discovered important properties of plant transport proteins that, collectively, could have a profound effect on global agriculture.

photo of a field of corn

Applying the new discoveries could substantially increase the productivity of crops grown for food and biofuels.
(Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)

One of Schroeder’s research advances led to the discovery of a sodium transporter that plays a key role in protecting plants from salt stress, which causes major crop losses in irrigated fields. The work of Dartmouth College SRP grantee Mary Lou Guerinot, Ph.D., also a collaborator, contributes to an understanding of how plants absorb and distribute metals, such as iron and arsenic.

In an article published May 2 in Nature , Schroeder and Guerinot along with 10 other scientists from Australia, Japan, Mexico, Taiwan, United Kingdom, and the U.S., describe how their discoveries could jointly be used to enhance sustainable food and fuel production.

The new discoveries of the 12 scientists clarify the way that plants transport important substances across their biological membranes to resist toxic metals and pests, increase salt and drought tolerance, control water loss, and store sugar can have profound implications for increasing the supply of food and energy for our rapidly growing global population.

“More fundamental knowledge and basic discovery research is needed and would enable us to further and fully exploit these advances and pursue new promising avenues of plant improvement in light of food and energy demands and the need for sustainable yield gains,” said Schroeder.

A press release about the collaborative paper is available through the UC San Diego website.

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